and it can happen in an instant
Warning! Spoiler Alert!
As storytellers, our characters will sometimes surprise us. This time it happened near the end of the story. I had resolved the main conflict and was tying up the loose ends. As I was working on the dialog I suddenly realized there was an opening for my lead antagonist to reintroduce the conflict. I had two options. Write a sequel, or deal with the antagonist once and for all.
In this case, a sequel would have been redundant. It would have essentially been the same story. The only difference would be the antagonist having a different cohort, and a borning, predictable sequel would hurt the integrity of the original story.
My other option was to kill off the antagonist, thus ending the conflict once and for all. I chose the later. The character is killed in a traffic accident before she has the opportunity to cause more harm, and there is no warning this is coming.
I strive to keep my contemporary romance novels as realistic and believable as possible. Sadly, we live in a world where tragic events occur everyday, all without warning. For the victims and their survivors, life is never the same. It’s also a reality I know all too well. I lost a young cousin to a car crash, and it was completely unexpected. One minute he was a healthy twenty-year-old man with his whole life ahead of him. The next minute he was gone forever.
While my decision to kill a character in a car accident may have seemed over the top for one reader, other readers disagreed. Because character in question was an antagonist, they felt vindicated. Her sudden end was also the direct result of her own actions.
Tragedy happens all too often, so perhaps the bigger lesson here is to never take life for granted. It really can come to a sudden end, without warning.